Tips on Staying Safe Before, During and After a Flood

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We are working with local, state and federal partners as they continue to battle the ongoing flooding in the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys.  Through our regional offices in Kansas City, Mo., Chicago, Ill., Denton, Texas and Atlanta, Ga., we are in close coordination with the affected states and stand poised to support them as needed.

On May 4th, President Obama declared emergency declarations for Mississippi and Tennessee, and a major disaster declaration for Kentucky, which allows for additional federal support to state and local governments.

Floods can occur in all 50 states, so whether or not you live in the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys, there are steps you can take today to get prepared.  Here are tips on what you can do to prepare before, during and after a flood:

Before a flood

  • Get flood insurance – Flooding can cause significant damage to homes and businesses, so protect yourself from the financial risk by purchasing insurance.   Flood insurance policies typically take 30 days before they take effect, so don’t wait until it’s too late.  Visit FloodSmart.gov for more information on flood insurance.
  • Safeguard your possessions - Create a personal flood file containing an inventory of your possessions, important personal documents and a copy of your insurance policies.  Keep it in a secure place, such as a safe deposit box or waterproof container. 
  • Prepare your house - Place the furnace, water heater, washer, dryer and electrical components on cement blocks at least 12 inches above the projected flood elevation.  Also, make sure your sump pump is working and install a battery-operated backup, in case of a power failure.
  • Develop a family emergency plan – Plan and practice a flood evacuation route from your home, work or school that takes you to higher ground.  Make sure your family knows how to contact one another in the event of an emergency, and ask an out-of-state relative or friend to be your emergency family contact. (And don’t forget to plan for your children and pets.)

During a flood

  • Go to higher ground and avoid areas subject to flooding
  • Do not attempt to walk or drive through flowing streams or flooded roadways
  • Listen to the direction of local officials and stay updated by following local news reports
  • If you come in contact with floodwaters, wash your hands with soap and disinfected water. 

After a flood

  • If your home has suffered damage, call your insurance agent to file a claim. 
  • Check for structural damage before re-entering your home to avoid being trapped in a building collapse. 
  • Take photos of any floodwater in your home and save any damaged personal property. 
  • Make a list of damaged or lost items and include their purchase date and value with receipts, and place with the inventory you took prior to the flood. Some damaged items may require disposal, so keep photographs of these items. 
  • Keep power off until an electrician has inspected your system for safety. 
  • Boil water for drinking and food preparation until authorities tell you that your water supply is safe.
  • Prevent mold by removing wet contents immediately. 
  • Wear gloves and boots to clean and disinfect. Wet items should be cleaned with a pine-oil cleanser and bleach, completely dried, and monitored for several days for any fungal growth and odors. 

For more information on getting prepared for floods visit Ready.gov or m.fema.gov.

Last Updated: 
06/18/2012 - 15:22
Posted on Fri, 05/06/2011 - 10:46
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